‘Genomic bulls deliver production and fertility’

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation recently outlined how genomically-selected bulls perform in relation to daughter-proven bulls.

On average, the ICBF states, a group of genomic bulls will be better than any daughter-proven bull when it comes to delivering production and fertility.

It said: “For example, the current average EBI for a team of the top five genomic bulls is still some €40 ahead of the best daughter-proven bull available in active AI.

“This is also apparent from the performance of the Teagasc Next Generation Herd at Moorepark, which were all selected as calves based on their genomic EBI.

“Compared to animals of national average genetic merit, the elite animals have delivered more milk solids per lactation and with much better fertility (98% in calf at the end of a 12-week breeding season during 2016), under the same management conditions.”

It added: “The Next Generation Herd continues to deliver 491kg milk solids sold, with 98% of cows pregnant within 12 weeks in a low-cost, grass-based system.

So the simple message remains, farmers who want to improve their herd performance should use genomic bulls, but they should use them in teams.

“We advocate a minimum of eight bulls for a typical 100-cow herd. Farmers should contact their local AI company to look at what is the best panel for their own herd.”

EBI changes

Last year, the ICBF announced that it was to change the way in which EBI values were calculated trough the use of the test-day model.

On this, it said: “The change in evaluation represents a fine-tuning of a very effective system and results in further accuracy on more animals in the ICBF’s growing database. In all cases, EBI’s will be more accurate than the values they replace thanks to the re-calibration.

“It is only by constantly updating the Active Bull List in an open and transparent manner that the ICBF can help farmers and breeders have the best information on which to make confident breeding decisions.”